OU Economics class Visits the EU
By Economics Professor Dr. Cassandra Copeland
Students enrolled in the advanced economics elective “International Trade and Business in the Euro-zone” investigated the history of trade and economic development in the European Low Countries before and after the establishment of the European Union. For 10 days, students visited the Netherlands, Belgium and France where they explored how the growth of multinational corporations, international trade and investment, technology and political diplomacy instigated institutional changes within these countries, as well as the international community at large. The goal of the course was to introduce students to the history, theory and models of international strategy of the founding member countries of the EU. This included the study of such topics as economic globalization, culture, distribution, regional specialization, international financial markets and foreign exchange, and economic development.
During the class trip to Amsterdam, Bruges, Brussels, and Paris, students discussed the role of culture and business in global exchange, and compared the economic systems and institutional development that served as the basis for today’s European trade union. In Amsterdam, students experienced economic history through the eyes of renowned artists and architects who portray the wealth, transport, and technological developments of the 17 - 19th centuries. Student visits included the Rijksmuseum and Rijksmuseum Van Gogh, Dam Square, and the Anne Frank Museum. Production techniques were demonstrated in a renowned diamond factory and small, local farm, which produces cheese and wooden shoes.
Students spent time in Belgium visiting established businesses, a financial institution and government agencies to address the roles of international exchange, currency and politics in the formation of the EU in the 20th century. Students toured a chocolate factory and explored the streets of medieval Bruges. Official visits to the U.S. Embassy on the grounds of the European Union and ECB bank group at the National Bank of Belgium were coupled with a tour of a local brewery and the Royal Galleries in Brussels.
Finally, in France, students were invited to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to hear an ambassador speak on global development initiatives, and saw the highlights of economic globalization with visits to some of the best known cultural sights in the world. Some of the sights included the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and Sacre Coeur.
For most students, this trip to Europe was their first opportunity to speak to international heads of business and/or politics and tour these international agencies and cultural sights. It was also an opportunity to look into the unique history, geography, economic strategies, and linguistic and cultural diversity of these European states. In addition, the trip created new friendships and lifelong memories.